Accurate even when you don’t place ingredients in the center of the platform, plus it’s fairly easy to clean and stow away.
It’s small and flimsy, the readout is easily obscured, and the glass platform doesn’t detach for thorough cleaning.
For a no-frills scale in the lower-middle price range, this’ll do for basic weighing needs—but consider spending an extra $20 for better materials and a lot more features.
Every serious cook needs a kitchen scale for baking, portioning, or ingredient accuracy. Taylor sells more than two dozen different models, including a Biggest Loser–branded one that also calculates nutrition. The 3842 food scale is pretty basic. If you rely on a scale for frequent baking, this one’s probably too small and feature-poor to satisfy. But if you need a scale to handle basic tasks—from checking the weight of roasts to calculate cooking times, to portioning butter for chocolate chip cookies—is the 3842 a wise use of $25?
This glass-topped digital model is small enough to take up minimal drawer space (it’s 7 3/4 inches deep, 6 1/2 inches wide, and 2 inches high). It registers in pounds and ounces (in 0.1-ounce increments) or grams (in 1-gram increments), can weigh up to 11 pounds (just under 5 kilograms), has a tare-weight function, and contains an auto shutoff to preserve battery life. It works on two AAA batteries (included in the box). The base is made of aluminum-colored plastic; the flat weighing platform is a glass disk measuring 5 7/8 inches in diameter. An indicator tells you when the battery power is waning, and there’s a one-year warranty against out-of-the-box defects.
The metrics for judging any kitchen scale are its accuracy and its ability to handle large, bulky, and/or weirdly shaped items, like foot-long butternut squashes and sides of salmon. To gauge accuracy, we tested water. (Good news: Our tests with 16 fluid ounces of water consistently registered the correct weight of 1 pound.) For handling, we deployed both a large hunk of beef and several small, round, easily rolled fruits and vegetables.
Because the weighing platform is less than 6 inches across, it’s actually quite awkward to get a reading on large items like our hunk of beef. We had to use a plate between the scale and our beef (or between the scale and our bunches of collard greens, or side of salmon), but the readout is so close to the scale platform that our plate obscured it, making it hard to read the weight. And for something like a cut of meat, which is already close to the upper limit of the scale's 11-pound capacity, a plate or a bowl restricts the size of what you can actually weigh.
For smaller items, the 3842 was able to accurately measure things placed off-center on the scale platform. But because the platform’s perfectly flat, it was hard to measure even sort-of spherical items like stemmed grapes or a small melon without watching them roll off before we could note their weight (again, we had to grab a plate or a bowl).
Another feature that’s less than optimal about this scale is the auto shutoff. When something is on the scale, the scale shuts off after three minutes, which is fine. But if the scale is empty, it shuts off after one minute. That can get irritating if you’re doing something that requires going back and forth from cooking to weighing. (The OXO digital scale in the CHOW Test Kitchen, by contrast, shuts off after five.) And while the Taylor 3842 does switch from pounds and ounces to grams, it can’t read kilograms (something that’s 1.353 kilograms, for example, shows up as 1353 grams)—not a deal-breaker, but still. The Taylor 3842 digital kitchen scale is accurate and relatively affordable, but it has a number of practical limitations. Whether it’s a good buy depends on how much you think you’ll use it.
Photos by Chris Rochelle